One National League and one Boston scout were doing their normal coverage at a Cubs game in Washington. The NL scout was sitting next to an enthusiastic Red Sox fan, who kept telling the scout that he thought the Red Sox should trade for Matt Garza.
After awhile, the NL scout yelled to his Boston counterpart, two rows in front of him. "I've got a Red Sox fan here who thinks the Sox should trade for Garza."
Minutes later, Garza-to-Boston was a talk radio rumor.
In many ways, this is a fun time. Twitter provides links to a huge volume of information, articles and thought. Trade rumors are inexhaustible.
"But this also is one of the most difficult times of the year for players," says Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd. "There is so much that floats out there; they hear so much; they worry about where they are going to end up. It's also the time of the year when general managers talk to one another more than any other time, so, naturally, a lot of names are discussed."
O'Dowd has been in the eye of the storm because Ubaldo Jimenez's name has been out there, more prominent than the other starting pitching names definitively on the market, like Wandy Rodriguez, Hiroki Kuroda (who has a complete no trade and would not, according to two East executives, accept a trade to the East Coast before becoming a free agent this fall) and Jeremy Guthrie.
Will the Rockies trade Jimenez? There is, according to the club, a 10 percent chance, if they remain yards behind the Giants. Affording Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Jimenez in that market may be difficult a year or two from now.
What would it take, with a club-friendly contract? One or two Major League level players, one of who would move into the Colorado rotation, and at least two prime prospects. In other words, if the Yankees want Jimenez, the Rockies would need a Major League starter, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and a bat.
"I do not see Brian Cashman making that trade," says an AL general manager.
As the Padres last winter looked at the Matt Capps case -- non-tendered one winter, traded for Wilson Ramos months later -- they figured that the market for relievers is far greater in the heat of the race in July than it is during the winter, when most teams hope they can cobble together a bullpen the way the Indians have this summer. Many general managers look at starting pitchers and position players as likely to fetch more during the offseason, when C.J. Wilson, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols will be discussing the GNP of Dubai.
Two weeks away from the Trade Deadline is the prelude to the dance. The Astros have been meeting the past few days to discuss their trade possibilities, which is difficult because GM Ed Wade is in a maze between ownerships. "Right now," says a GM, "they want for Rodriguez what the Rockies want for Ubaldo."
It is clear that good relievers like Heath Bell, Mike Adams and Leo Nunez can be had, and it is a relievers' market. It is also a market in which a half-dozen teams are looking for right-handed-hitting outfielders, but while the Mets wisely approach the deadline trying to figure how much of Carlos Beltran's money to take to get one or two legitimate prospects, the Rockies have essentially backed off moving Ryan Spilborghs, and the Cubs have told suitors they want to hold onto Jeff Baker, that right-handed bat market consists of Conor Jackson, Josh Willingham, Reed Johnson, Lastings Milledge and Jeff Francoeur. The Dodgers would like to shed salary, but they are so crippled there isn't much to shed other than Kuroda and the valuable Jamey Carroll; they're trying to pare Triple-A payroll. Oakland will move the veteran bats and a reliever or two. Seattle won't have a fire sale, and they're not likely to get much for Erik Bedard. Kansas City will do some paring.
"It's really hard for Bill Smith to even think about moving Michael Cuddyer or [Jason] Kubel because they can get back into the race," says a GM. "Oh, they'd move Kevin Slowey, but they naturally think they can win." Another GM says Baltimore is murky because "Andy MacPhail really doesn't know which way [Orioles owner] Peter [Angelos] wants him to go." Washington isn't selling, except for Tyler Clippard; instead, they keep asking for Michael Bourn -- thus far without success -- and had been one of several teams interested in Julio Borbon until his recent injury.
Colorado, like Minnesota, has a history of late charges, as does Tampa Bay, which worries about what would happen if Kyle Farnsworth went down. The Rockies have two young catchers named Jordan Pacheco and Wilin Rosario and could move Chris Iannetta, but the Red Sox have been focused on an outfielder and a pitcher and said they are satisfied with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek and Ryan Lavarnway.
Two weeks from now, we will know more about Jon Lester's shoulder and Clay Buchholz's back, Bartolo Colon's hamstring, Alex White's finger, the Phillies' bullpen, and on and on and on. In the meanwhile, every joke in the scouts' section is worth a tweet that can become two hours of talk radio.
Peter Gammons is a columnist for MLB.com and analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.